Superfood Series: We’re Nuts for Your Heart!

Walnuts have received a bad reputation due to their high calorie content. However, the healthy nut is anything but empty calories, like most calorie-dense foods. Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to general health, and bonus!!…they are particularly good for your heart and cholesterol! Consuming 1.5 ounces, or the equivalent of a handful, of walnuts five times a week may reduce your risk for heart disease, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Walnuts receive two thumbs up from me as a healthy snack option. It is easy to throw pre-portioned walnuts into your bag or desk. It may seem like a small snack for some, but it is meant to be a SNACK, meaning you should feel satisfied (but not full) after consumption.

When purchasing walnuts, try the low-sodium option or the raw (salt-free) option, typically found in the produce section of your grocer. The purpose of consuming walnuts is to help you become healthier, not to increase your sodium intake. If you are skeptical of the salt-free walnuts, then give the low-sodium option. They’re surprisingly tasty, and you will doubtfully be able to tell the difference in the sodium content.

Additionally, walnut oil contains a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids. However, if nut oils overheat, the oil will become rancid and destroy the taste of your food. Therefore, try using walnut oil when blanching foods or in dishes that do not need to be heated, such as salads. Remember to look at the serving size on the nutrition label when using any oil to ensure you are using the appropriate amount.

By Laura Oliver, MS, RD

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